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tv   Book TV After Words  CSPAN  May 5, 2012 10:00pm-11:00pm EDT

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>> host: you've been in the think tank world, and so let's launch with your new book, "hunting in the shadows". you talk about three waves of al-qaeda violence and a possible third wave. before we get into the evolution of how you tracked that, how the u.s. intelligence and national security world has tracked that, can we talk about the health of the organization which is at the major milestone, the 1-year anniversary of the bin laden raid. how are they doing? >> guest: i think how is al-qaeda doing depends on which part of the organization we're talking about. the core group based in pakistan that was led by bin laden until he was killed a year ago, that organization has definitely
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struggled somewhat. it's lost the range of its senior operational leaders, religious leaders, and operatives, but it thrives to some degree. it still has key founding members, one involved in running the organization. al-ahbi is now number two with a wealth of experience in africa and a vast number of places. the organization, at the center, has been weakened somewhat, but as we'll talk about in a little bit, as you look at the affiliates in places like yemen, for example, it is arguably strengthened based on its levels of violence, its territorial control on the ground, and a range of other factors, so part of the answer, i think, dpefnedz on which part -- depends on which part of al-qaeda in a group that's clearly decentralizing.
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>> host: talk about that evolution. start us with the first wave, 9/11. what was the organization like then? how are they able to launch those series of attacks? >> guest: well, the first wave begins by groups that formed in pakistan in the late 1980s, and over the course of the 1990s, beginning to build itself really as a high ark -- hierarchy structure with other organizations, but particularly settled in afghanistan, and near near -- the issues going right at that time were several things. there was a sanctuary in afghanistan and an ally. they had tense relationships at some point, but was a good enough host that allowed bin laden to stay, and plan for operations. it also had a somewhat limited
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targeting structure, at least for the early period. it was primarily targeting u.s. military facilities, embassies, and not killing large numbers of civilians targeting the uss cole, embassies in tanzania and in kenya, and then as we got up to 9/11, it became clear that there was really no u.s. strategy, at least what was executed on the ground against al-qaeda. it had a sanctuary and a livid selective engagement strategy killing minimal civilians, and it had an enemy who now identified it as a major threat. >> host: so it was at that point seeing as an organization that had a means to attack abroad, but not at home, and so they still just not taking it seriously? >> guest: there were some
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individuals -- i mean, there are a range of individuals i talked to at organizations like the cia that identified bin laden, identified grave concerns about plotting attacks in the west including in the united states. we know that a range of individuals like richard park had alarm bells ringing at the white house level, but, again, at that point, when we go back and look, the administration at that point was focused on things like the balcans and fires elsewhere. >> host: in the national security arena. now, you talk about this wave of al-qaeda violence, and then they get beaten back. sometimes, because of their own actions, what caused the kind of temporary defeat the first
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time? was it our launch on afghanistan? >> guest: well, actually, it's about the reverse of the coin we just outlined. they lost the sanctuary in afghanistan so the host they had, the taliban regime, was overthrown, and in addition to that, we saw a u.s. approach that was focused mostly on services, the cia, the range of other intelligence services, nsa, geospatial, and then in special operational forces targeting in afghanistan and then in pakistan and other locations. >> host: you're talking about in 2001, how the u.s. fought back by sending in cia and special forces, green berets working on the ground in afghanistan, the tribal leaders, and with everyone out? >> guest: in addition to other locations, the capture of
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muhammid, and not quite an al-qaeda person himself, but definitely involved in operations, libi, so these operations, even in countries like pakistan were done with clanupons. in addition, al-qaeda had been killing a large number of civilians in new york city. it did lead to a backlash in some areas of the world, especially among some conservative sunnies that this was probably going too far. >> host: i was going to ask you about that. you go into great detail in the book about the intellectual debate back and forth between the current leader of al-qaeda replacing bin laden with his mentor turned enemy in egypt. there's two former militants in
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arms who are battling back and forth. can you describe that? >> guest: yes. this is a really interesting evolution of a relationship. sharif went back to the early years in egypt, both practicing doctors, both involved in the early years of the egyptians running jihad, had both gone to pakistan together, and they established an eij that was becoming more global. a branch of jihad that was becoming more global in focus. sharif was particularly important because he established a lot of the important ideological underpinnings of egyptian, and islamic jihad. some of the stuff he wrote was during the early al-qaeda
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training camps, but over the next several years, they had a falling out, part was personality based, others was sharif was deeply upset at what zahiri did to one of his books in a way that he was thought was wrong, and then it does appear that sharif begins to have second thoughts about the use of violence in a way that zahiri continued to push, armed oppositions against the egyptian regime, and just this broadening view of killing peopleñr includg muslims that sharif could just not accept as valid. >> host: you talk about your frustration that the u.s. government didn't take advantage of the two sides. how could the u.s. have picked up those messages and reflected them out to the wider world without, in a way, tainting them by backing them? i know that's a lot of times,
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u.s. officials are like, well, if we embrace this person, we just turn them into an enemy of al-qaeda. >> guest: well, i think the issue is less u.s. getting directly involved. >> host: okay. >> guest: because when the u.s. gets involved with backing individuals including conservative sunni, muslims in this case, you tend to undermind them. i think the issue rather is the story, the debate, which spread among a number of global jihadists and a number of very conservative sunni muslims who backed him. i think the issue was with one or two minor exceptions, most americans and most people overseas saw very little of that debate, so nay, you know, there
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was one article, one or two articles in the new yorker that larry wright wrote. other than that, it was just buried so for communities in the united states that were looking at over the next couple of years, the works of individuals like anwar al-alwaki, you didn't see push back because stuff was not generally translated, available, or reached around at all. it was generally buried in this struggle. >> host: you think that this u.s. government, there should have been greater awareness of the debate back and forth or the that u.s. public might have changed a point of view because of it, or are you talking about trying to message it to the wider arab world? >> guest: i think all of the above to make it clear to media that this debate was happening,
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to, in a range of remarks that several u.s. presidents made, both the current one and the previous one, could have integrated the schisms happening about al-qaeda's use of violence. you know, one recent -- one really good case, i think, along these lines was in the 2007-2008 period saying he was willing to take questions across the muslim world, and this very little discussion, all things writing about it, really interesting set of questions. he gets bombarded by muslims across the world with questions like why are you killing civilians in all these locations? in iraq? in algeria? why are your organizations killing muslims? that's a useful discussion to have publicly. >> host: i guess i have to
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ask, just talking about the first wave of violence at this point. you have this debate going on. apparently, the debate didn't stop the second wave. >> guest: right. >> host: describe the second wave. why did it take off? >> guest: well, the second wave by 2003, al-qaeda had been decimated we now know. some of the documents in the book -- >> host: one under house arrest in iran. >> guest: what it looks like is unclear right now, but he's believed to be in iran right now, he's an egyptian, very close to osama bin laden, although, after 9/11 in 2002 and 2003, becomes critical of the organization, and he is from captured documents we know he was very concerned about the future of the organization. it had come under major attacks,
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lost a range of leaders, but then comes the u.s. invasion of iraq, and in particular the large number of american forces over the next several years seemed to een courage greater radicalization so part of the book i spoke to a range of things that the cia and that organizations like the fbi -- >> host: i was jealous of your access, by the way, but you had better questions than mine. >> guest: and also british intelligence. mi-5, domestic intelligence agency, individuals with whom i spoke said there's no question that the invasion of iraq and the participation of a range of nations like the british and the spanish, radicalizedded their own populations and contributed, among other things, to high
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levels of violence in iraq, but also the bloody attacks in madrid, which al al-qaeda was involved in it, involved in most of the operational stuff, but whose goals specifically was to get spanish forces out of iraq, and they succeeded. >> host: hundreds were killed in a series of bombings. >> guest: right. multiple attacks on train stations. the next year, 2005, we saw those attacks. the al-qaeda core in pakistan was greatly involved in, and iraq grew large over khan and the british pakistani involved in the attack. >> host: so each one of those attacks, the people available to carry them out were inspiredded by the iraq war? >> guest: absolutely inspired. >> host: which was in part carried out, at least we were told at the time, to stop the spread of terrorism? >> guest: correct. >> host: later, that was discredited that there were only
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ten u.s. connections between al-qaeda and the regime of hussein and the weapons of mass destruction turns out to have been possibly a sign-off campaign by saddam, a campaign to make countries speaked that he had weapons. >> guest: well, what becomes clear, and this is documented in one of the chapters that al-qaeda in iraq is really not formed and becoming an official affiliate, that's sworn by loyalty to bin laden until late 2004. more than a year after the regime is overthrown, and by that appointment, al-qaeda gets what it had not had for several years, and that is a sanctuary. provinces like umbar suddenly have a growing sanctuary in 2004 and 2005, and into 2006 so now
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this movement radicalized individuals, getting fighters coming from syria into iraq and voluntarily serving, and radicalizing people across multiple continue innocents and they have a -- continents and they have a sanctuary in iraq. this gets us to the peak of the second wave. >> host: attacks overseas, not in the united states, but we have a series of bombings to go on and on in iraq led by leadership, as you explain, is part of the reason that the second wave started ebbing. explain how that worked, and i know that also goes into the whole anwar awakening phenomena, and i have to say, nowhere in the book do you seem to say counter insurgency was the reason for the turn around, so -- awakening and counter
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insurgency. >> okay. it's interesting because the declassified documents between the core leadership in pakistan show a very tense relationship through 2005 and 2006 and as they continue to use brutal tactics like beheadings and killing large number of civilians through car bombs and explosive devices, in pakistan, we see letters from the number two, zahiri, number two at the time, and also another who was serving as a deputy general manager of al-qaeda, sent letters saying you have got to stop killing so many civilians, especially muslims, including shia. that's underminding your support.
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back off on targeting civilians in other countries because he was involved in attacks in jordan, and they both said you're going way overboard, and we're losing support. that's exactly what al-qaeda in iraq began to do. it began to lose support in provinces like umbar that takes us to pre-surge in iraq. i would say what you really see in 2005 and 2006 is less large numbers of american forces fighting al-qaeda in iraq, but supporting iraqis doing it themselves, you know, with special operations, with conditional army marine, and with intelligence units providing a lot of support. local iraqis doing the bulk of the fighting. >> host: the local iraqis doing the bulk of the fighting was, again, zahiri's behavior. >> guest: exactly. >> host: he had not only been
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sponsoring attacks against civilians, but can you walk us through some of the things he was putting the local communities through? i remember hearing at the time on everything from he's trying to force us to marry off our daughters to him. he won't let us smoke cigarettes and on and on. >> guest: well, there was one awful case, one that's in one of the chapters of the book, where al-qaeda in iraq kills some local civilians, and as the tribal leader in that area tries to get the bodies back, al-qaeda in iraq holds on to them for well over the time period allotted for in general, at least in that area, muslim practice, and they are rotting in the street, and then at some point after a period of time, the family's called to retrieve the bodies, and they have been
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laced with improvise explosive devices, so as the family members are gathering the rotting corpses in the street, they explode and kill more members of the family. the purpose from the al-qaeda in iraq's perspective was to teach locals in this particular area a lesson they were not to cooperate with the government and they were not to cooperate with u.s. or other ally forces, but what the reaction from local tribes because of attacks like this was anger. demonstrable anger where you see by the fall of 2006 large scale revolts against this kind of brutality. i mean, brutality that goes well beyond, you know, basic dignity and humanity, and that really causes the population to shift. >> host: that's what drove the local tribes to work with the
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americans? that caused the awakening because we were the only other tough guy on the block available to help them fight and beat al-qaeda out. it was the rise of shiite and sunni violence as well? >> guest: that's right. >> host: between two enemies. >> guest: al-qaeda in iraq at that time was killing anybody who was not taking more control -- especially the sunni groups, killing large numbers of of sunnies as well, and, you know, when you look at some of the declassified documents, it is interesting by 2006 and 2007 as the a wakening starts -- awakening starts to make end rows in al-qaeda in iraq, there's understanding of what's happening. they are losing support, fracturing, losing members who are flipping sides, people are
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getting upset with the brutality. they understand it, but in a sense, by that period, it's too late. >> host: so that is the second drop of the second wave. what leads to the third? >> guest: the third wave, in fact, it was the primary day for the first, iraq the second. the third wave really hinges on, among others, anwar a [laughter] -- and it's quite impressive in a strategic and tactical level. he was born in the united states, spent a lot of time in yemen, had been a active -- in san diego, and then in the washington, d.c. area, and then he goes to yemen, and he's
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involved with starting this organization, al-qaeda -- actually restarting it because they had been decimated by the saw -- saudis in saudi arabia, gaining traction in 2008 and 2009, and he did several things that are impressive, at least from the sense of where the organization started in yemen. he uses social media and the internet quite effectively putting out his sermons on the internet so they are publicly available. >> host: in enlish? >> guest: in english. he speaks well. he speaks carsmatically. he speaks -- actually, not with a lot of fire, but if you listen to his sermons, it's, you know, he's persuasive. it's interesting. i look at the documents back in san diego. he was also the side of him that most people didn't see is he was
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arrested twice for soliciting prostitutes in the san diego area. you know, there was clearly another side of him that was different from the image he was pore portraying. he gets involved with the tactical stuff. >> host: which put him on the target list? >> guest: which put him on the target list. a lie -- libya who was educated volunteered services. they met several years earlier, volunteers services to conduct some operation. as i walk through one of the chapters of the book, after reading a lot of recently declassified information on it, he walks him through what he wants him to do, and that is they've got to innovate a bomb form that ideally is not going to get detected because they can
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walk through airport metal detectors, and then he says you need to detonate this bomb when it's over american air space. combining strategy, social media, and operations to make a potent enemy and create the third wave. >> host: even though initially couldn't terrorism experts -- counterterrorism experts talk about him being inspirational rather than operational. took us awhile to figure out where he fit in that chain. >> guest: well, i think it was clear to the u.s. government by late 2009, by december anyway, after the failed plot because he talkedded relatively quickly, and his bomb -- partially went off on the airplane, but he then walked through the fbi in the series of interviews what had happened. it just was never broadcast
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publicly. i think most americans were not entirely clear how he was involved operationally. >> host: i think you're right about that, and you do go into it in great detail. now, he was killed by gun strike last september. has -- when al-qaeda loses someone like that, how long does it take them to find a new candidate? >> guest: well, it's difficult in some positions. one of the things that alwaki was able to do better than most was inspire people. i mean, the magazine he and several others started called "inspire" was useful, but a lot of the things he did helped radicalize. we know that because a lot of failed, and in some cases successful attacks over the last several years, in the interviews
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afterwards, this major hussein in fort hood shooter, he was an e-mail contact with alwaki. the individual in 2009 involved in the planning attacks in new york city was an al-qaeda plot. for six plotters in new jersey, it was inspired by jihad and alwaki. he was able to do things that people like adam, the southern california al-qaeda operative, he's an interesting case. i have part of a chapter devoted to him. his father's jewish. he was raised in sort of a christian family. ends up switching religions, and then joining al-qaeda and going to pakistan. he broadcasts on youtube, but there's almost no cases where i can find anyone is inspired by adam. he's a laughing stock in many places so losing someone like
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that makes it very difficult to replace. replacing some of its operational religious leaders, but i think it does take time and they may never, at least in the short term, get somebody like that. >> host: they lost another, the propaganda to help him build the online magazines. >> guest: that's right. >> host: last sent. >> guest: that's right. >> host: well, after the break, we're going to come back to yemen and where it is in the third wave and where the u.s. is in fighting them out. >> guest: thank you very much. >> host: thank you.
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>> host: so the third wave begins, inspired by anwar al-alawaki, american born, started as a propagandaist, and he moved to the operational side of things. why does aqap, al-qaeda in the arabian peninsula, present such a threat to the united states? you would think, okay, a couple of bomb plots targeted at airplanes, but are they also focused on a local site? i mean, where do they come down? why do we spend so much time worrying about them now? >> guest: well, especially by 2009 and into 2010, they were trying to expand its sanctuary
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in yemen in places where it had established some training camps in the mountains around the gulf of aiden, and also they had individuals like alwaki interested in targeting the united states, and they had volunteers willing to do that. that mixture was potentially concerning especially if they could get people and up pyre them to do it. >> host: the targeting was almost part of the recruiting process for the overall organization. >> guest: i think there's no question so encouraging individuals like the fort hood shooter to -- this is a great propaganda entry for them because they could actually take someone who is an american soldier and had doubts he was about to be deployed to
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afghanistan, have doubts about being a muslim in the u.s. army and can use that killing at fort hood as an example of instability within the, what they call the enemy, and it was a way to show they were getting some end roads in the united states. it looks to me that he was not directly involved in the operational component, but he was certainly involved through e-mail contacts in helping inspire him to do that so targeting directly, but also inspiring individuals. they became a serious threat, and then we saw a year or so later when the -- attempted to put explosive devices inside printer cartridges in cargo planes, and what's interesting with al-qaeda in the arabian
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peninsula, they were really innovative. the bomb that they established for the christmas day bomber was, again, one that they figured out how to get it undetected in airports because it had no metal components and they tested that bomb, and it worked. >> host: the plays p tick explosives sewn into underwear, and the reason it didn't work because the ignition didn't go off; correct? >> guest: correct. i'm not a bomb expert, but i know with at least one, even two test cases, that bomb had gone on. they tested it in yemen. it was a decent amount of time from when he was begin it and he went a route from yemen, through africa, stayed for a period of
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time in nigh nigeria, amsterdam, and then the u.s.. those were his instructions to avoid detection as much as possible, and if you go through these multiple locations, and stay in nigeria where he was from, he'd avoid detection, which he was, but that may have impacted the powder ingredients in the underwear bomb. that innovation how to thwart security to thinking since then about ways to thwart security processes through body cavity bombs -- >> host: like used by one of the bombers to try to target a member of the saudi royal family? >> guest: exactly. even more recent plans they have been playing around with, putting bombs in cameras or other items that can be brought
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on to an airplane or your luggage that you check in, your carry on. >> host: they have the place of the third wave for you because they have the means to go with the aspirations to carry some of this stuff out, and it sounds like they are still recruiting? that's what i keep hearing, that they -- it's becoming a place that's a real draw for foreign fighters? >> guest: that's right. in addition to that, the arab spring begins to spread, they also get a government that begins to weaken, and they get a government that also is involved in multiple inser jen sighs within -- insurgencies in yemen. as they increase their capabilities, they get a weakening government with multiple insurgencies it has to deal with, and that helps facilitate and allow them to
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spread that sanctuary. >> host: now, there was a bit of a debate going on, though, between aqap leaders and bin laden before he died. which way to go with that fight. can you walk us through that? >> guest: well, i mean, my reading of this is -- bin laden and some of this has not been discussed a lot publicly, but they had concerns about several of its affiliates focusing too much on the wars in operation. too much on yes , -- yemen, and al al-qaeda, a less of a concern for him than was iraq because or after africa or in iraq because al-qaeda in yemen was at least looking overseas to conduct attacks. some of the other affiliates
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were doing very little activity outside their own country, and he apparently sent several letters out to affiliates saying, remember, we need to attack the united states so don't get so bogged down in fighting in somalia, north africa, iraq, and in yemen that you forget the far eni, that's -- the far enemy, and that's the united states. he was trying to encourage them not just to spread within their own countries, which was important, but also to continue to focus on the u.s.. >> host: now, that sort of brings us to afghanistan, which was the start of this fight, was bin laden's sanctuary, and is currently where tens of thousands of u.s. forces are still battling it out. where is the fight on the ground in afghanistan go from being the right war to something that helped inspire these waves of
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violence? >> guest: well, i think one -- one factor was the decision to go big in afghanistan, which is actually less in my view a counterinsurgency issue, but to go big with large number of forces and the focus on the central government as really the only actor involved. i would say through 2007 and 2008, even for most of 2009, the focus in afghanistan was deploying increasingly larger numbers of of american forces. >> host: and the problem with that is? >> guest: well, in my view, there is, among other things, there is variation in the competence of american forces to do this kind of stuff. i would say you certainly have a special operations component that's trained for have counter insurgency and warfare. >> host: locals on the ground, working in small numbers. >> guest: that's right.
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i'd say there's variations in quality of conventional forces in talking counter insurgency games trying to still fight it like a conventional war, living not in local villages, but living primarily in our bases, occasionally going out and conducting operations, but it was one where i think it was largely ice lated, and the second part of it is also accumming that the answer was really to build up large numbers of national security forces. >> host: oh, in afghanistan? >> guest: the national army police. i would say historically, and even if you go back to 2001, you get into rural areas, i would say very strongly there is no history, recent history in the last 100 years, where local communities ever established security because of permanent presence by government forces,
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yet that was our answer for several years to push out police permanently. we didn't have enough, but i think you push those things together, and it created a problem. >> host: well, there is also something that you elude to several times that your grant is a war in which the side who kills the most civilians loses. now, we saw that working against iraq, killed too many civilians, and there's a backlash. in afghanistan frequently, civilian deaths spark bigger headlines than taliban deaths or that's caused by taliban, explosive devices that hit the school bus rather than the u.s. army patrol it meant to hit so is that part of your argument
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that because there's a large number of conventional forces with varied ranges of competence that they cause more civilian casualties or less that we empowered a force of afghans that couldn't keep the peace. >> guest: well, i think it's less the civilian casualty's front. well, i spend a lot of time in rural area, and they recognize pretty clearly that the taliban were killing a lot more civilians than nato or afghan forces were doing. the issue is when you go in big with large numbers of of conventional force, and you go in in a country that's historically been dominated in rural areas by tribal planned elements, and you try to have a central government approach, that come combination of being
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foreign and slightly inappropriate strategy combined to mean rural parts of the country were simply not being effectively stabilized because nobody was operating in them. no conventional or special operation forces in 2009 were doing anything permanent in rural parts of the country. there were no -- very few afghan national security forces, and in addition to that, we see the percentage for support of americans begins to decline because it looks like it's a foreign government that's trying to establish security on the ground for karzai government. that looks bad at the time. as it becomes a major u.s. presence to try to secure for the afghan government rural villages, it begins to look bad, the government looks incompetent because -- >> host: we're the invading force that's backing up our
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puppet telling them what to do? >> guest: that's exactly what it begins to look like, and i think that was the problem. >> host: so that's less of the argument made in the war of violence extremism, but more we got into afghanistan fighting one fight and it morphed? >> guest: well, the issue with afghanistan is that war's not over. we're in the middle of that war so i think there clearly have been periods where, and what the taliban's done differently than al-qaeda in many areas is while in iraq where we talked about it earlier in 2005 and 2006, al-qaeda in iraq was killing large numbers of of civilians. the taliban, well, they killed more, actually quite careful. a lot of the taliban killings, even civilians, were targeted
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assassination, generally small numbers of individuals they believe were collaborators or family of government officials or family of collaborators. what the taliban did not do is kill large numbers of of civilians. in fact, the numbers of civilians in a sense compared to iraq was much lower in afghanistan than they were in iraq. >> host: what i'm looking at is from your arguments about how we can avoid a fourth wave, how we avoid or handle a wave in afghanistan and how to move forward in yemen and somalia, that could make the difference as to whether al-qaeda stays around and remains a threat to u.s. national security or becomes a footnote, something that's always in the background,
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but doesn't require major u.s. investment. what would your recommendation be? first of all, talk about afghanistan. you, in your previous job, were a major proponent and the local police program that goes with that. that is -- the way you described, i have to tell you, the u.s. official i talked to want to believe that's the way forward. what is it, and is it the way forward and the way out? >> guest: well, in terms of the stability operations in afghanistan, i have to say first that there's no silver magic bullet. this program, the u.s., afghan, and the allies is in and of itself a silver bullet.
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i think what it does is supplements and complements efforts to provide security and governance and a development in rural parts of the country. now, much of the effort is focused on training national security forces supporting formal rule of law, that is through courts, and pushing in development through afghan ministries, formal ministries. >> host: very top down? >> guest: very top down. what this program does is uses it much smaller number of forces to supportville ages for three purposes. one is to help local communities at the village level -- >> host: sending smaller bands of special operation forces into remote areas? >> guest: right. >> host: 12 green berets, 12 navy seals. >> guest: into local villages to help locals provide what
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they've done for thousands of years, and that is bases community level security, defensive community level security, to support informal governance, means pashtun areas of the country, that is parts of western, southern, and eastern, and pockets of northern afghanistan where rule of law in rural parts of the country does not come from a court or a judge, but it comes from elders coming together and adjudicating an individual that's having a dispute with somebody else. supporting, at least for the near term, that kind of ajude dation, formal rule of law, and coming in from the bottom up. it's a bottom-up component through a strategy that historically was only top-down. it supplements. it can't win or lose it by itself. it is a component that many people felt was missing for
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several years, and certainly when you look at periods of stability in afghanistan from 1929 to 1978 with the success of kings, shaw and his father and relative, when they established 50 years of stability, and that was pretty recently, combined top-down governance and security and development, and supporting atonomy from the bottom up in rural clans and parts of the country, that security operation fits in is more along the lines with that with the previous dynasty. >> host: so that's working to use the phrase of the green berets, using the local forces and establishing what the presence as long as you need. what else would you supplement with -- that effort with as we
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move forward if you designed our 2014 strategy when we are supposed to pull the troops out? >> guest: i would not stop combat operations. i think the footprint can decrease. i think i would support operations to help afghans target taliban, haqqani, and other groups. i think stopping combat operations would be a mistake. i think foot prints can decrease. i would say in particular keeping a pretty decent sized special operation contingent that does more than target, but can also train regular national security forces, regular meaning the local police forces, and also working on improvements in governance. i mean, things like the kabul bank crisis that for a long time went out any prosecutions. that stuff sends a message to a
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local population, and i think supporting those kinds of efforts to hold people accountable are important. the key factor, frankly, a long run, ends up being without roughly week state in afghanistan, with its neighbor, in particular pakistan. >> host: with pakistan, playing devil's advocate, saying we had tens of thousands of troops, diplomats, contractors on the ground trying to do what you're describing. for instance, trying to make the karzai government root out corruption amongst its own and failing over and over and over. how could this smaller footprint force do that? >> guest: well, a couple of things. we'll have a new president shortly, so it's an open question to what leadership looks like in afghanistan in two years. >> host: you don't think karzai goes for changing the constitution to stick around for awhile? >> guest: it's unclear. there's a range of operations,
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but i think it does provide an opportunity for fresh thinking in afghanistan. any u.s. president who had to go through two terms is exhausted by the time that second term is down so, that's one factor that has to change in the foreseeable future. i think if you look at assessments of the counterinsurgency campaign over the last two years, the taliban, and i would say going back, especially to the south, i would strongly support these conclusions. the taliban definitely lost ground in key areas including the south, parts helmand and kandahar. it's much less the number of forces, international forces that are involved in helmand and kandahar, and places in supporting local entities in those areas. >> host: and yet a recent national intelligence estimate
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on afghanistan said that there were still an influx of taliban from pakistan where they are sheltered with safe havens there, and that every time u.s. forces or afghan forces withdrew from an area, the taliban almost always flooded back in, unless the north where there was not an ethnic base, but in the pashtun south and especially in the east, hard to keep them from coming back if you don't keep a presence on the ground. >> guest: the present doesn't have to be just an american one. the general trend over the past two years is areas that are largely held. kandahar is a great case. it's a district outside of kandahar city, symbolically the most important city in afghanistan, certainly in southern afghanistan for the taliban. in 2009, when i was down there,
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an incredibly dangerous place. u.s. striker brigades, often a number of individuals there. you go there now, the security situation is so much better now based largely not on a huge american footprint, but a much better local police presence and a national police presence that stabilized much of the district and kept it that way for now going on three years. there's been a range of areas across key parts of the south where we've seen the taliban partially pushed out and have stayed out. now whether that will be the case over the next two or three or four years is an open question. >> host: is this a strategic pause on their part? just waiting it out in pakistan? now, let's talk about pakistan. every time u.s. turned up the heat on militants in afghanistan, they've gone next door, according to the
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intelligence reports that have been described to me. >> guest: actually, i'd put it a little differently. one thing that's been consistent over the past several years, frankly, the past decade, is that the command and control structure for the insurgency has been and is and will be for the foreseeable future in afghanistan. there is some targeting of some of the up -- insurgent groups in afghanistan. the haqqani group in the pakistan areas and others in the tribal areas of pakistan, but the most important stir up in my view 1 the senioral jsh senior taliban. others have representation in the province near southern afghanistan, and there have been no sustained u.s. operations against the taliban leadership
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-- >> host: we're not allowed to go there. >> guest: or the pakistanis. >> host: and the pakistanis also, again and again, u.s. officials talk about how the pakistani intelligence service supports the taliban, supports the haqqani network, and funds some of their activities helping them attack u.s. troops in afghanistan. i mean, with a partner like that, what do you do? if you're saying, i mean, al-qaeda proper is -- i keep hearing hiding somewhere in the pakistani federally administered tribal areas. the taliban, you're saying, is in blotch stan, and we can leave a presence that you talk about, the careful targeting of special operations together with intelligence forces, but if the enemy's hiding in a country that you're denied operating in as we
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are currently in pakistan, it's difficult for cia officers to operate in pakistan, what do you do? >> guest: well, this is the $64,000 question. even if you can succeed to come degree in underminding taliban and other control in afghanistan, you do have this big challenge with pakistan. what do you do? well, you know, the most successful period working with the pakistanis was after the 9/11 attacks, and that was a very good relationship for several years, but unfortunately, it almost took a september 11th type attack for the pakistanis to see for us to really mean we're serious in destroying, in that case, a regime that they've helped build, so ab sent that kind of an attack being an attack in the u.s. homeland that comes from
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this region where the u.s. has to change its strategy, i don't see any other option than the u.s. thinking very carefully about whether it really wants to e eliminate the taliban or at least severely weaken the taliban, which still has a relationship with al chi -- al-qaeda right now including senior members. it has to either work with pakistan to target senior taliban officials, or, you can fill in the blank. >> host: got it. with a couple minutes left, let's pull it back again to al-qaeda at large, the organization, you say, has changed a lot from 2001 to now. your short prescription, if you had to -- well, you just were having tom chats at the -- some chats at the white house. what was your 30-second elevator
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speech on how to take the next steps against al-qaeda? >> guest: well, there's a couple of things. one is, i think, u.s. strategy matters a great deal, and there are a couple of things, i think, that would want to be avoided. as we saw in the second wave, we want to avoid a policy decision that radicalizes large numbers of of individuals to support al-qaeda like the iraq invasion. >> host: so no more ground invasions? >> guest: no more ground invasions, and where that comes into play, i think, if there was a successful attack on u.s. soil, some might actually call for war of a presence in yemen or pakistan or another location. i think that would be -- and some of those attacks are somewhat very close. 2009, the times square bomber of 2010, were very close. that would be one. the other would be to not do
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something like an attack against iran, i think, which probably also have the potential to spiral and radicalize. those are two elements. the third, very briefly, is the u.s. is in this discussion right now about moving east to the asia pacific. there's been a new dod strategy, department of defense strategy, which focuses on the east as the future. i would say as you look across north africa, the horn, the middle east, and south asia with the regimes weakening, somewhere al al-qaeda has gotten and some like syria where they are desperately trying, but now is not the time. reads from afghanistan going to australia. now may not be the time to move wholesale strategically to the east. >> host: so what you are saying is shrink the footprint, but keep an eye on the enemy
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because it's still there? >> guest: i think you said it better than i did. >> host: well, i have to say this was one of the most comprehensive histories of the last ten years that i have read all in one book, and it was a good read. great to talk to you, and thank you very much. >> guest: thank you very much. that was "after words"'s signature program in which authors of the latest non-fiction books are interviewed by journalists,ñi public policymakers, legislators, and others familiar with their material. . .


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